United States Capitol Police--Employee Shuttle
B-305864: Jan 5, 2006
- Full Report:
The United States Capitol Police (USCP) may not use appropriated funds for a shuttle bus service from its parking lot to the Fairchild Building, or any other USCP building, where the purpose of the service is to facilitate the commutes of USCP employees. Commuting costs are personal expenses, and, absent statutory authority, appropriations are not available for personal expenses. Where, however, USCP establishes a legitimate operational need for a building-to-building shuttle, there is no objection to employees' incidental use of the service as part of the home-to-work commute, so long as such use does not result in additional expense to the government.
B-305864, United States Capitol Police--Employee Shuttle, January 5, 2006
The United States Capitol Police (USCP) may not use appropriated funds for a shuttle bus service from its parking lot to the
The United States Capitol Police (USCP) asks whether it may use appropriated funds for a shuttle bus to transport USCP employees from USCP-provided parking to a new USCP facility, the
USCP states that it is moving several component offices from its headquarters building on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol complex, near which employees are provided parking, to the
USCP suggests that since it is proper to use appropriated funds to provide parking in the first instance, it should be proper to use appropriated funds to transport employees from the parking lots to the
Initially, we point out that the fact that USCP provides parking for its employees is not relevant to the issue here--the propriety of shuttling employees from the parking lot to USCP buildings. The propriety of the use of appropriated funds for a parking lot-to-workplace shuttle turns on the application of a longstanding rule regarding the nature of commuting costs.
It is well-established that an employee's commute between home and work is a personal expense, and personal expenses are not payable from appropriated funds, absent specific statutory authority. 27 Comp. Gen. 1 (1947); 16 Comp. Gen. 64 (1936). For executive branch entities, the rule is codified at 31 U.S.C. sect. 1344(a)(1), which limits the use of appropriated funds for passenger vehicles to official purposes, and provides that, with certain exceptions not applicable here, transporting an employee between such individual's residence and such individual's place of employment is not transportation for an official purpose. This limitation applies to any portion of the trip between home and work. B'261729,
In our view, an employee's arrival at a parking lot cannot be considered the end of the commute. Rather, a parking lot is simply an intermediate stop--like a subway or bus stop--within the totality of the commute from home to office. For purposes of section 1344(a)(1), legislative history suggests that the end of the commute, or place of employment, is the primary place where an officer or employee performs his or her business, trade or occupation, and includes, but is not limited to, an official duty station, home base, or headquarters. It includes any place where an employee is assigned to work. . . . H.R. Rep. No. 99-451, at 7 (1985), accompanying Pub. L. No. 99-550, 100 Stat. 3067 (
There is no objection, however, to the use of appropriated funds for a shuttle bus from USCP headquarters to the Fairchild and other USCP buildings, so long as USCP establishes a legitimate operational need to shuttle persons among those buildings and its purpose is not to aid employees' commutes. See 16 Comp. Gen. 64, discussing official business; 31 U.S.C. sect. 1344(a)(1), discussing official purposes. In that circumstance, there is no objection to an employee's incidental use of such shuttle service on a space-available basis, and so long as it does not result in additional expense to the government, even though the employee may not yet have reported to work at the Fairchild Building or may already have completed his or her daily assignment. However, to the extent that the purpose of the shuttle is to transport employees to their workplaces, that is, to complete their commutes from home, the use of appropriated funds for the service would not be proper. See B'210555.3,
A 1979 case, B-195073,
In sum, the general rule that an employee's commute between home and work is a personal expense precludes the use of appropriated funds for shuttle bus service whose purpose is to complete the employees' home-to-work commute to the
Anthony H. Gamboa
 While section 1344 applies to executive branch entities, see 31 U.S.C. sect. 1344(g)(2), the principle embodied in section 1344, that appropriations are available only for official purposes and, without specific statutory authority, not for personal expenses such as home-to-work transportation applies equally to USCP appropriations. See generally 31 U.S.C. sect. 1301(a)(1) (appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law). For that reason, section 1344, its legislative history, and case law applying it offer a useful analytical construct in this case.
 The Command proposed to equip the bus with office equipment and designate it as the riders' official workplace pursuant to the government's flexiplace program; we noted that flexiplace guidance did not recognize a mobile work site as a flexiplace option.
 This decision responded to an agency's suggestion that an official entitled to be driven from his headquarters to a particular site or office could be picked up at home, bypass his normal headquarters stop, and be deposited directly at the site or office where his activity was to commence.